This post is by Minna Salami
Admittedly, it’s not the best time to reveal that I’m a Sex and the City fan. Last month, all four of its stars won a joint razzie for worst actress as well as for worst screen ensemble and for worst sequel.
Nevertheless, in its heyday, my mum and I would watch it together every week. In a sense, it was a bonding act, during which she and I would discuss the issues the show brought up. Issues that had affected her as a young woman in the 70s, like choosing between career and family or being sexually confident in a ‘man’s world’, still felt relevant to me a generation later.
We would laugh at Samantha’s bawdiness, agree with Miranda’s level-headedness, get irritated with Charlotte’s girliness, and Carrie’s flummoxed questions about relationships with the opposite sex floated gently in the air even when the show was over.
Not only do I cherish those moments my mum and I shared thanks to Sex and the City, I also believe that the series contributed to the feminist worldview I built as a young woman. Statements like, “A guy can just as easily dump you if you fuck him on the first date as he can if you wait until the tenth,” felt startingly fresh to hear expressed by women on mainstream television.
However, using Sex and the City as proof of post-feminism rubs me the wrong way. Most recently, the book Chick Lit and Postfeminism discusses what is referred to as the ‘postfeminist genre’ of chick lit such as Sex and the City. The popular myth surrounding the series seems to be that if four independent, succcessful and liberated women could visit the screens of millions of viewers every week despite the series’ characteristic shock factor, then structural gender inequalities have been eradicated. Surely the world is now post-feminist.
What such arguments fail to acknowledge is that, even if this type of post-feminism were a reality, it would only apply to women with enough purchasing power to buy equality. It would be relevant only to women with enough financial freedom to consume life without having to rely on a man or on a patriarchal government. In other words, primarily to high-earning Western women.
However, the analysis of whether we live in a post-feminist world is neither ethnocentric nor based on how many pairs of shoes a woman can afford. Widespread use of the term post-feminism is not only a premature formality in the West, but it’s also an unfortunate neglect of global feminisms. The term feminism might have been coined in the West, but the feminist project is pan-cultural. Feminism, even with its many regional, racial and theoretical branches assumes equality for all women, from all corners of the world, and of all financial backgrounds, whether or not they wear Manolo’s.
Minna Salami was born in Finland, grew up in Nigeria and studied in Sweden. She has also lived and worked in Spain and New York. She currently resides in London, where she works as a writer and blogger, and where she is completing an MA in Gender Studies at SOAS University. She often writes about the African Diaspora, Race and Feminism, and is not afraid to speak her mind. She writes at http://www.msafropolitan.com